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DPNR BEACH ADVISORY: Ten Beaches In The Territory Failed Water Quality Testing And Should Be Avoided By Swimmers And Fishermen

COKI POINT BEACH: This popular beach in St. Thomas has failed water quality testing two weeks in a row. Overall, five of the seven beaches that failed in Rock City last week also did not meet established water quality standards this week.

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Ten beaches in the territory failed water quality testing and should be avoided by swimmers and fishermen, according to the latest Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) Beach Advisory.

DPNR said on Friday afternoon that five beaches in St. Thomas and five beaches in St. John are not considered safe to swim or fish in.

On St. Thomas, DPNR urged beach goers to avoid  Coki Point, Hull Bay, Water Bay, Secret Harbor, Frenchman’s Bay and Vessup Bay.

All five of these St. Thomas beaches failed water quality testing last week as well.

On St. John, the public is asked to not use Great Cruz Bay, Johnson Bay, Oppenheimer, Frank Bay and Cruz Bay beaches; while on St. Croix Protestant Cay — where Hotel on the Cay is — failed water quality testing.

The agency said that it tested 35 “designated” beaches from June 12 to 16 on St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John.

DPNR has been testing the ocean waters in Tier 1 Coastal Zone Management areas since 2004 after the federal Beach Act was passed by Congress as an extension to the clean water act in 2000, DPNR Environmental Engineer Benjamin Keularts said.

The local agency tests ocean waters in areas that are used by the greatest number of people, are popular with water enthusiasts and have the greatest accessibility to the public, Keularts, who is the TPDES Permit Administrator in the Water Pollution Control Program for DPNR, said.

DPNR has been testing the waters in the territory out of a “concern for human health” and because it is mandated by the U.S. government under the Clean Water Act, he said.

Rainwater runoff is the greatest threat to clean ocean water in the Virgin Islands and DPNR is testing for ocean waters that “do not meet water quality standards because they exceed the established Enterococci bacteria threshold.”

Enterococci are potentially-infectious bacteria common in the feces of warm-blooded animals, including humans. In 1986, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended using enterococci in place of fecal coliform bacteria as the preferred indicator of fecal pollution and health risk in marine water.

High levels of Enterococci bacteria and turbidity may be caused by runoff due to heavy rains, heavy marine vessel traffic, high wave activity near the shoreline, irresponsible recreational use, etc. Runoff can consist of sediment, pesticides, animal feces and oil & grease, all of which are harmful to the waters of the territory.

DPNR said it will continue to monitor these popular swimming and also recommends that you use your own discretion when swimming or fishing at the designated beaches.

If the waters appear muddy or murky or have foul odors, do not swim or fish. For additional information regarding water quality call the Division of Environmental Protection at (340) 773-1082 in St. Croix.

The following beaches meet established water quality standards and ARE considered safe for swimming or fishing:

St. Croix

Buccaneer Hotel, Cane Bay, Cramers Park, Cheney Bay, Dorsch, Frederiksted public beach, Halfpenny, Pelican Cove (Cormorant), Princess Condo Row, Rainbow, Shoys and Stoney Ground

St. Thomas

Bolongo Bay, John Brewers Bay, Lindquist, Sapphire, Magen’s Bay and Limetree Bay

St. John

No beaches safe.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy has been reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands since 1989. He is originally from Detroit, Michigan.

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